Spending Diet update! You can track how my own savings are progressing here.
We live in a magical age.
The internet makes so many things in life so much easier. Downloading music, online shopping, paying bills; all sorts of things that involve emptying your bank account. If the internet is so good at helping you spend money, then it makes sense that it can also be put to use helping you SAVE money as well.
My best friend Kim is always telling me this. She is the online coupon queen.
It’s a major hobby for her and she’s thriftier that a master coupon-cutting grandmother. Whenever I make ANY purchase online Kim chides me to find a coupon first. “I only spend 35% of what I used to on groceries,” she reminds me smugly.
Here are the sites she, and I, recommend for online savings:
A while ago we determined that going out is one of the biggest money sucks for twenty-somethings. Well, if you live in a major city and a flexible with your plans, Groupon can help take some of the edge off. Every day the site emails you with a special deal in your area: anything from $40 of food at a restaurant for $20 to discount haircuts or kayaking lessons. I’m a big believer that you don’t have to live like a complete monk to save money, so this is a useful way to have fun on a smaller budget. Just don’t forget to use your groupons once you’ve bought them like I have!
I use Ebates and let me tell you: it is essentially free money. You sign up for an account, and then click through them whenever you make an online purchase and you get a percentage amount given back to you. Not a huge amount- usually 1-5% of your purchase, but this can add up (particularly if you are buying planet tickets like me). The amount of stores affiliated with this is staggering. Every three months they will actually send you a check or deposit the money to your PayPal account.
One thing I really have learned from Kim is to NEVER buy anything online without checking if there is a coupon out there for it. When I bought an LL Bean bathing suit last week a quick Google search yielded me a code for free shipping. That’s like $10! Retailmenot.com is a great site for finding these little bonuses, and always worth a check before you buy something. This is also a place where you can print real paper old school coupons to use at the grocery store.
This one isn’t so established in DC, so I haven’t used it personally, but is has potential. It essentially allows you to buy gift certificates for half price. In Atlanta this means half off tickets to the Bodies Exhibition, or the Georgia Aquarium. They also have free movie passes and tickets to other cultural events.
So all of these other websites are useful for saving money on basic costs of living, but the ones listed here are part of your “save money traveling” tool box. I never buy a flight or get a hotel room until I have thoroughly researched my options online to find the cheapest deal out there.
The important caveat is not to go overboard with the coupons. The goal is to save money on things you are already buying. When you start buying things you normally wouldn’t because they are “such a good deal” you’ve passed out of the realm of saving money and in to the spend zone.
What websites do YOU use to save money?